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What Is Transit System Resilience? 1-1 CHAPTER 1 What Is Transit System Resilience? TOPICS: 1. Resilience as Restoration and Reinvention 2. DefiningTransit Resilience Your Way 3. Why Resilience Matters 4. Paths to Resilience
What Is Transit System Resilience? 1-2 All aspects of life entail risk, and ideas for getting up, going on and bouncing back are appealing to everyone. If risk raises the question, resilience is an answer. The idea of resilience in disasters, both natural and manmade, has become part of the national vocabulary, in the context some of the United Statesâ most severe weather-related events on record, as well as human-instigated events. Experts in various fields and agencies on the front lines call resilience âthe new reality.â The idea of resilience is generating a great deal of inquiry and discussion in various fields, but the real question for users of this Guide goes straight to practical value. What is a resilient transit system and why does being one matter? Though the word resilience is widely used in Information Technology (IT), ecology, psychology, materials science and other fields it is just beginning to take hold in the transit industry. The term has been little used, except by a few large agencies. More often, transit agencies talk about sustainability, or emergency preparation or management, or asset management and Adoption of resilience measures may arise from necessity after disaster strikes or may come from forward-thinking planning that leads to strategic preparedness and adaptation. WHAT IS TRANSIT SYSTEM RESILIENCE?
What Is Transit System Resilience? 1-3 safety. Certainly, any of these can contribute to resilience, especially when intentionally targeted to that end. 1. Resilience as Restoration and Reinvention Definitions of resilience usually include the idea of managing misfortune and offer opportunities to do that. These range from returning to the way things were before the disruptive event to making changes that will make the system stronger for the future. These two faces of resilienceââone looking backwards and the other forwardââ may seem contradictory, but they are both critical to ensuring resilient transit service. It is clear from case studies that transit agencies think about and pursue resilience from two major perspectives. The most commonly described perspective is âoperationalâ resilience, rooted in customer focus and resulting in efforts to keep services running safely, even under adverse circumstances. The other perspective is âinfrastructureâ resilience and is rooted in the agencyâs physical planning, material and asset management framework. Most agencies employ both perspectives. Disruptive events and misfortunes require restoration and invite reinvention. Together these comprise resilience. Transit welcomes both faces of resilience and turns each of them toward both an agencyâs operations and infrastructure requirements.
What Is Transit System Resilience? 1-4 Planning for transit system resilience always aims to restore the best of the past wherever possible. Overall, this means providing reliable, customer-centric service. Specifically, it can apply to both operations and infrastructure. For example, operationally, resilience might mean recovery of service: getting the same buses back on the same routes as soon as possible. In infrastructure, it could mean getting a transit hub repaired so passengers can safely transfer from one route or mode to another. But resilience efforts in those examples can also be used to transform future possibilities. Maybe the transit hub or the bus route in a flood plain is relocated, or training and operating protocols for major snow events are revised. Maybe damaged infrastructure leads to equipment upgrades or infrastructure improvements, or perhaps longer-range planned capital projects are prioritized for shorter-range execution. What matters for the future is that agencies see resilience in operations and infrastructure as planning to restore AND to reinvent. Whether or not agencies use the term resilience, all are engaged in work to build restorative and regenerative ways to withstand disruption and manage change. All transit systems have to address not only their likely risks from extreme weather events or other emergencies, but they also need to serve communities that are more and more focused on security (readiness) and sustainability (endurance).
What Is Transit System Resilience? 1-5 This guide is designed to help you assess your system and the policies, plans, programs and management functions where resilience strategies can be put into practice. The lessons, examples and tools included in the guide are presented to help your agency recover from weather- and climate-related disruptions and to build back stronger. 2. Defining Transit Resilience Your Way Talking about resilience is not easy. The topic centers on risk and points out vulnerabilities; plus, it mostly comes up when an undesirable event threatens to warp a comfortable status quoââor has already. But however uncomfortable, the resilience discussion needs to take place in agencies of every size, because disruption happens. Resilience can be defined in many ways. This Guide used the NAS definition as a basis, but every transit agency needs a definition it can put to work to meet its own resilience planning needs. However, to be most effective, a The ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, respond, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse eventsâ¦ enhanced resilience allows better anticipation of disasters and better planning to reduce disaster losses â rather than waiting for an event to occur and paying for it afterward. (National Academy of Sciences, 2012) â â
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What Is Transit System Resilience? 1-7 changes are expected to continue or accelerate in the future. Past weather and climate patterns no longer appear to be reliable indicators of future weather and climate threats, and, therefore, not reliable bases for planning. For example, in 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck in November, outside what has been considered the ânormalâ time frame or season for this kind of weather event. Floods and droughts are increasing in severity as weather patterns shift. For transit agencies, readiness for any emergency is important, but building resilience to climate and extreme weather events is essential to protect current and future investments and maintain safe operational capabilities of current systems. The prospect of managing both extreme weather events and severe funding shortages makes a clear argument for the value of transit agenciesâ building resilience into their strategic, capital, and operational plans. After all, proactive spending on resilience can save money in the longer run, and protects many aspects of a transit systemâs business model, as it enables transit agencies to rebound more quickly and serve customers more effectively. In the past decade, more than 1,200 major disasters, emergency and fire management declarations have occurred in the United States (FEMA 2016A). These disasters, which resulted in deaths, injuries and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and economic losses, have been largely weather/climate related. Between 1980 and 2016, 203 weather/climate disaster events in the United
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